Avoid ticket scams for concerts, sporting events and more

Earlier this year, fans of Atlanta United were dismayed to arrive at the game only to discover that their tickets were fake. The team has since moved to paperless ticketing to crack down on scammed tickets.

Related: Cops say metro Atlanta men sold fake Stanley Cup tickets in Nashville

This season, when the Falcons play at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, fans will use digital tickets on their smartphones for entry, in part to crack down on unauthorized ticket brokers .

Ticket scams have gotten more sophisticated over the years as online sales have opened up opportunities for thieves. It's not just the scalper hanging out on the street with an " I Need Tickets" sign that you have to fear, it is any ticket seller that isn't officially sanctioned by the event.

Tickets scams now refer to a spectrum of ways that ticket buyers can be duped. Sometimes the thieves want money, or maybe they want personal information. It's not just big sporting events or concerts that can draw scammers. There are scams for concert tickets, theme park tickets, art festival tickets or any type of ticket, said Michael Osakwe, researcher and staff writer for NextAdvisor.com.

While there are a range of different types of scams, most of them originate with resellers.

Fans tend to look for third-party resellers when major vendors have sold out. Tickets scams have been found on Craigslist, Facebook and reseller websites. Even if you buy legitimate tickets, you aren't safe, said Osakwe.

"If you purchase through a legitimate venue, the scammer can send a phishing email and reference the legitimate ticket that you purchased. It is easier to be scammed online," Osakwe said. There are certainly red flags, he said.

"If it is a place where people can post anonymously, that is a red flag to me because you can’t verify anyone's identity. Another red flag is if the provider you are purchasing from takes a hands off approach. You have a buyer beware situation," Osakwe said.

Craigslist and eBay offer a high level of anonymity making it easier to get away with scams. Buyers who shop from these sources are often left with little recourse when they get scammed, Osakwe said.

If a seller is asking for hard-to-trace payment methods, steer clear. Requests for payment in Bitcoin, gift cards, wire transfers and money transfers should be viewed with caution. Always try to pay with a credit card which offers more protection against scams.

When an event is sold out and demand is high, ticket prices go up, not down. Low price tickets are a sign that something is not right, Osakwe said.

Here are some other ways Osakwe said buyers can protect themselves from ticket scams:

  • Purchase your tickets in advance.
  • Purchase from legitimate sources. Ticketmaster, StubHub and Eventbrite can be trusted but only use them if you can't get tickets from the preferred or official vendor.
  • Watch out for phishing. Scammers try to impersonate legitimate organizations all the time, usually through fake email threads that use fake domain names resembling those of real companies. Legitimate ticket sellers usually only use email for confirmations, not repayment or personal information. Don’t click on any links, and instead open your browser and visit the site using the domain name you already know.
  • Watch out for spoofing. Some scammers want you to come to them. They’ll use a technique called typosquatting in which they create a website with a similar spelling to one that you’d ordinarily visit. Instead of Ticketmaster.com, the scam site will be Ticketmaster.net or some near misspelling of “Ticketmaster.com.” Going to one of these spoofed sites will redirect you to a cloned site with the same images and general features as the site you intended to go to, but any information you input here will be captured by the scammer. Be sure you double-check the name of domain name of the site, conduct a WHOIS lookup if you are unsure who owns a domain and when you’re about to enter your login, personal or payment information into a site, look for HTTPS in the web browser.

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone
Nedra Rhone
Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.